Michael Crowley’s analysis of the foreign policy divisions inside the GOP is confused:
As the GOP‘s hawks and neo-isolationists struggle for control of the party in the months and years to come, one group that seems increasingly marginalized from the debate is the party’s moderate foreign policy elite. Soon-to-be-former Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, known primarily as a foreign policy statesman, was one of the few left in between the GOP’s dueling wings. This is the GOP of people like Condi Rice, George Shultz, Colin Powell, Brent Scowcroft, Robert Kagan [bold mine-DL], and others–people whose judgment can of course be imperfect, but who understand the world, unlike the know-nothings of the Tea Party, while rejecting the partisan killer instinct of the hawks and neocons.
I suspect that Scowcroft and Kagan would bristle at being included as part of the same group. That is a hint that Crowley’s idea of a “moderate foreign policy elite” bears little resemblance to reality. Rice was perceived as being grounded in the same realist tradition as Scowcroft, but the foreign policy that the Bush administration pursued while she was National Security Adviser and Secretary of State understandably horrified Scowcroft, who couldn’t understand what had happened to his protege.
By any reasonable contemporary definition of hawk or neocon, Kagan is both. The thesis of his book The World America Made has become a rallying cry for hawks and neoconservatives. Kagan is a prominent foreign policy adviser for the Romney campaign. He is an influential inside the GOP as he has ever been. In what sense is Kagan a “moderate” on foreign policy?* What is Crowley talking about?
For that matter, Lugar’s foreign policy over the last decade can only be described as “moderate” in comparison to that of McCain or Santorum, but on the whole Lugar supported most of the same policies that they did. Except for arms control, and leaving aside post-2010 maneuvers that were made to create distance between Lugar and Obama, where has Lugar substantively differed from hawks and neoconservatives?
* “Moderate” is not a very useful political or policy label, and its meaning depends greatly on what the person using finds excessive or extreme, but if it means anything it can’t apply to Kagan and Scowcroft at the same time.